Saturday, January 03, 2009

travel journal#4-24: Three Dreams / Philly, Queens, Montreal

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 4, No. 24

By Krishna-kripa das

(December 2008, part two)

Philadelphia, Queens, and Montreal
(Sent from Albany, New York, on 1/4/09)

Where I Am and What I Am Doing

I split the second half of December between Philadelphia and Montreal, both of which have daily harinama programs. One Sunday I took a day trip to Queens.

I lived in Philadelphia in the mid-1980s.

I was so happy to see the Deities Radha Saradbihari once again.

It was also nice to see devotees who had lived in Philadelphia ever since I was last there, headed by Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu.

There are unique things about each of our temples: In Philly they offer the Deities flower petals during the greeting, they chant the Prabhupada Strotam before Guru Puja, and they have lots of maha sweets at breakfast, including burfi, which is rarely attained without special endeavor in most temples. They have a Sunday School with three different grade levels. Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu gives regular lectures during which you always learn something new about Krishna, and Vishnu Gada Prabhu is there to lead some great kirtanas. Then there is Govinda’s which is both fast food and a regular restaurant.


Prabhupada Nectar

One Prabhupada disciple told me
he stopped chanting for some years. Prabhupada came to him in dreams several times and asked him to chant. The last time Prabhupada asked him to chant in a dream, the devotee replied, “But I have to work to maintain my family.” Prabhupada responded, “So did I, but I chanted.” Since then the devotee has chanted sixteen rounds each day.

One young lady, although attracted by Krishna consciousness, had doubts when the devotees described Srila Prabhupada as being completely pure. “How can anyone be completely pure?” she thought. Later she had a dream in which she saw Srila Prabhupada conducting an initiation ceremony, chanting on the devotees’ beads, etc. The more she watched him, the more she appreciated the purity of his actions. Finally, she came to the point of accepting that Prabhupada really was a pure devotee. Just then, in the dream, Srila Prabhupada handed her some beads and told her to chant Hare Krishna.


For me, these kinds of dreams remind us that although Srila Prabhupada appears not to be present, he is still here, ready to reciprocate with us and elevate us to spiritual life. If we really are sincere, we need not worry.


Gaura Prabhu: Srila Prabhupada says that if someone leaves we should think that it is at least 50% our fault.


Gokulananda Prabhu: One devotee was telling Srila Prabhupada that many devotees, especially the big devotees, were coming where Prabhupada was for the Ratha-yatra. “Big devotees?” Srila Prabhupada replied, with surprise, “We are trying to become small devotees.”

From Srila Prabhupada’s CC Adi 5.66, purport: “The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the Absolute Whole, and the living entities are parts of the Absolute Whole. This relationship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the living entities is eternal. One should never mistakenly think that the spiritual whole can be divided into small parts by the small material energy. The Bhagavad-gita does not support this Mayavada theory. Rather, it clearly states that the living entities are eternally small fragments of the supreme spiritual whole. As a part can never be equal with the whole, so a living entity, as a minute fragment of the spiritual whole, cannot be equal at any time to the Supreme Whole, the absolute Personality of Godhead.”


From his SB 5.18.4 purport: “No one should think of himself as a liberated person immune to the influence of maya. Everyone should very cautiously execute devotional service by rigidly following regulative principles. Thus he will remain fixed at the lotus feet of the Lord. Otherwise, a little inattention will create havoc.”

From his SB 5.18.11 purport: “All the great saints in the devotional line very strongly recommend the process of hearing. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu introduced the congregational chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra to give everyone a chance to hear Krishna’s holy name, for simply by hearing Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, one becomes purified (ceto-darpana-marjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]). Therefore our Krishna consciousness movement is chiefly engaged in chanting the Hare Krishna mantra all over the world.”

From NOD, Chapter 25: “Anyone who becomes exhilarated by hearing of the pastimes of Lord Krishna when He was present on this earth with His associates is to be understood as nitya-siddha, eternally perfect.”

From his SB 3.21.31, purport: “To award fearlessness to the common man is the great act of charity.”

From Friends of the BBT Newsletter, January 2009:

When Tribhuvanath Dasa, who had been staging festivals up till then, asked, “Should I stop and just do book distribution?” Prabhupada replied, “No. Do everything side by side.” He elaborated, in a 1973 letter to Prabhavishnu Swami, “Go and do these six things: Distribute books, chant in public, give out prasadam, give out flyers, answer people’s questions, and hold a program in someone’s home.”


A Dream That Increased My Faith


A teenaged girl who had some attraction to Krishna consciousness wondered how to proceed. It was difficult for her to get devotional association as the nearest temple was several hours from her home. At one point, a devotee who was one of the ISKCON initiating gurus appeared to her in a dream and introduced himself by name. He then began to teach her from a book called Science of Self-Realization, proceeding through it, chapter by chapter. Finally, he instructed her to teach others. After awakening, she remembered the guru’s name from the dream, and did an Internet search, finding a web page with his name and photo. Indeed, the photo matched the person in the dream! She got his contact information from some devotees she met who, coincidentally, were his disciples. She corresponded with him for some time, and ultimately took shelter of him by initiation. Now a decade since the dream, she is very happily engaged in his service.

For me the amazing part of the story is that she did not know the name of the guru or what he looked like, nor had she ever seen the book called Science of Self-Realization before. Usually, in dreams, images we have seen previously are often combined in new or odd ways, but how would content that we had not experienced enter our dreams, except by divine intervention. The story may increase the faith of some people who doubt the potency of ISKCON gurus. It might also benefit new persons who are worried about choosing a guru. Sometimes, as in this case, the Lord makes an obvious arrangement.


Christmas Eve Day in Suburban Station


Philly’s Suburban Station is a great location to chant on cold, windy, or wet days. You do not need permission to do music, only if you set up a table and sell things. There is, however, the problem of competition with other musicians. Anindita Mataji, took a break from her book table to make a deal with the acoustic guitarist with an amplifier who was playing at the same time, and he agreed we could play together.

I started out playing my mini accordion, with the guitarist following.


He was a great musician who had been playing for twenty years. It must have been a great act of tolerance for him to follow me, an amateur musician playing the accordion just a few months. Some people appreciated the unusual experience. Seeing the guitarist begin to tire of chanting Hare Krishna, Bhagavatananda Prabhu suggested that he play George Harrison’s classic “My Sweet Lord”, which includes a Hare Krishna mantra chorus in it.


You never know what Krishna has in store for you when you go on harinama.

Queens Sunday Feast


Sunanda Prabhu, and some of my godbrothers from Queens, invited me to give the Sunday lecture at our temple there. They have the most beautiful Krishna-Balarama Deities, carved by the same person as the Vrindavana’s Krishna-Balarama.


The temple is attended mostly devotees of Indian descent from the Caribbean, many who love kirtana and have a nice service mentality. I had a very positive experience there.

Montreal Metro Meditations


Radha Govinda Prabhu of Montreal told me back in 2005 that the devotees chant daily in the subways in Montreal in the winters, so I decided to spend part of my winter break there. I went out for four days of harinama and gave at least a lecture a day for five days as well. They reserve two hours slots in the subway station six days a week, once the weather gets cold in mid-November, and from four to seven devotees go chant there, more on Saturdays. Harinama leader Nrsimha Caitanya Prabhu goes to the metro station sometime between 3 and 5 a.m. in the morning to reserve the spot, a great sacrifice. Guy Concordia station, near a college in the English speaking area of Montreal is a favorite location.


Gaura Prabhu, who I met in Mayapur, and chanted with on the sidewalks of London and the park in Amsterdam led harinama the first day. The rightmost devotee gave a flyer to a Chinese man, who came to the Sunday feast. A well wisher gave a donation of $20.


One day a flute player stopped to join us briefly.


Some passers by look with curiosity.


Some leave donations and receive Bhagavad-gita for $5 or a small book for less.


Once someone asked if we had Bhagavad-gita for sale, and gave a $10 donation. In December the devotees received over $500 just by doing harinama.

The acoustics is great in the metro station and while waiting for the trains and when leaving them one can easily near the kirtana which fills the air. We also can chant softly with harmonium and drum on the metro back to the temple. The regular harinama devotees were all enthusiastic singers and dancers, and very friendly. I hope they can keep up their nice standard.


Although never in Montreal as a devotee, I met many devotees I knew in addition to Gaura Prabhu, who I already mentioned. Jagannatha Prabhu studied Bhakti Sastri with me in Mayapur. Janardana Prabhu took a course on Sadaputa Prabhu’s Origins lectures I taught at Rupanuga Vedic College., and I met Golukananda Prabhu and his son, as well as Nrsimha Caitanya, in Mayapur. The newlyweds, Jaya and Uddhava, who showed pictures from their marriage one evening, I knew from Alachua. Akhilesvara Prabhu once spent some time in Alachua as well. It is truly a small world!


On New Year’s Eve, the Montreal youth had a program at the temple until midnight including three plays, two in English and one in French. All thanks to Bhakin Tanya for directing them. One was the best rendition of “The Brahmana and the Cobbler” I had ever seen, with both the brahmana and the cobbler playing their parts very nicely. In another play, Bhakta Greedy heard in one Bhagavatam class that you could go back to Godhead by merely taking prasadam. Following that leading, he ate so much prasadam, it took four brahmacaris two hours to pull him through the temple room. Finally he could not rise, and a doctor put him on a diet of boiled vegetables, which cured him. When cured, he could take only one plate of halava, remembering the austerity of the diet. His saving grace was a great service attitude he acquired through prasadam and devotee association.


Montreal is not on the circuit of many world preachers, and the devotees there are hungry for good association, and they do reciprocate. There biggest day for harinama is June 24, and their Ratha-yatra is one or two weekends after July 4. Check out their web site at


Their Radha Manohara are ever-fresh beauties.


Manohara’s face graces the beautiful Deity Darsana book.

I had a great time there, and I look forward to returning next time I come to Albany, NY to see my family.


Insight from Lectures


Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu, SB 11.4.6, weekly conference call class:


Nara-Narayana Rsi promotes naiskarmya karma-yoga.


Indra was worried about Nara-Narayana Rsi’s powerful penances, thinking the Rsi may seize his kingdom. “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” (From Shakespeare’s Henry IV. Part II, 1597.)


Tridasapura-akasa-puspayate: The cities of the heavenly kingdom are like flowers in the sky. Devotees are not attracted by such illusory pleasure.


Nara-Narayana Rsi lack of anger when tempted by Indra’s dancing girls is especially mentioned. Lord Siva once conquered lust with wrath but was unable to be free from wrath’s effects. Sometimes demigods place obstacles in the path of those, who do not give sacrificial results to them, because they prefer to worship the Supreme Lord alone.


The way to deal with obstacles is to use their energy in a positive way, just as an expert martial artist uses his opponent’s energy to defeat him.


Not only does Indra get carried away by lust and anger, but in the Greek tradition, the gods also get carried away by such things. Thus thinkers like Socrates did not have a high opinion of the worship of “the gods.”

Q: In the Christian tradition, saints see temptations as sent by demons, but here we see that temptations are sent by the demigods.

A: Any Christian who thinks about it must come to the conclusion that the devil must be some representative of God, otherwise there must be two Gods. In the course of spiritual life we see that material things come to us, and we have to reject them. The early Christians believed the Greek and Roman gods to be demons. Sometimes when they exorcized the spirits, the spirits would say as they departed, “I am Apollo and my temple is there.”


Ramananda Prabhu: If a peon comes and gives you a letter with a thousand dollars, you don’t reject it, thinking how can this poor man give me a thousand dollars. Similarly we do not reject the spiritual knowledge, when given by the humble representative of God.


Gaura Prabhu: When we chant “Sri Vishnu, Sri Vishnu, Sri Vishnu” before taking medicine, it is not that we are offering the medicine to the Lord, but we are remembering the medicine is not all in all. Without the mercy of Lord Vishnu, medicine alone is not enough.


Gokulananda Prabhu: The upraised arms of the devotee dancers have a dual meaning:

1) All glories to You, O Lord.

2) I surrender to You.


Anubhava Prabhu:


When you chant Hare Krishna you must do it while willing to attain Krishna.

Whatever devotional service we are doing, we should be very glad that we have the opportunity to serve Krishna, instead of serving our senses.

When we conquer over our lower self, we feel satisfied.

When love is there, you can do anything to serve Krishna.


Vibisana Prabhu:


What ever the spiritual master says, you must try to execute. You may be successful or not, but you have to try.


While serving the Lord we feel more satisfied as the tree is satisfied when the root is supplied water and not the leaves.


One friend who was very advanced intellectually, but when I showed him Bhagavad-gita he could not understand a word of it, and he became angry with me.


One man in LA used to spit and throw rocks at the harinama party. He later became a devotee.


Ramananda Prabhu tells a story of a man who was so angry seeing a devotee lady distributing a Krishna book on the train, he ripped up the book and threw the lady, who was very slight in stature, off the train as it was pulling out, injuring her. He had thrown the damaged book in his own bag. At home, his maid found it, repaired it, and put it on his bookshelf, where it remained for years. After his wife died, and his son left home, he happened to read the book. The philosophy concerning reincarnation comforted him in his loss. He came to a Hare Krishna temple near his home in very humble and apologetic mood, explaining the whole story to the temple president. He gave a donation to the temple and regularly attended, and finally became a devotee.


Mother Savitri: “Hiranyakasipu, on the occasion of Hiranyaksa’s death, gave a very Krishna conscious lecture to his relatives about the immortality of the soul. He is the best example of a person who gives a great class but doesn’t follow his own instructions.”


Celia, a UF student who chants on the campus with us in Gainesville, from an internet chat: “When you miss devotees, it’s a different kind of missing. You miss more and stronger because you miss a link to Krishna. Every devotee is like a little link to Krishna.”

duhkha-madhye kona duhkha haya gurutara?

krishna-bhakta-viraha vina duhkha nahi dekhi para


Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked, “Of all kinds of distress, what is the most

Sri Ramananda Raya replied, “Apart from separation from the devotee of Krishna, I know of no unbearable unhappiness” (Cc. Madhya 8.248).